Crosswalks staying put for now in Chilliwack

The idea to upgrade some crosswalks to full-stop pedestrian lights was put on hold when council referred it back to staff last week

The idea would have stopped traffic at intersections along busy north-south corridors  in Chilliwack and made it safer for pedestrians to cross multiple lanes.

The recommendation was to upgrade several crosswalks to full-stop pedestrian lights, on Vedder Road at Storey Avenue and at Wells Road, and also along Evans Road at Wells and Commercial Court.

But instead the matter was referred back to staff by council at last Tuesday’s council meeting.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz’s was opposed to the idea sending it back to the drawing board, saying council had all the information it needed to make the decision, and that complaints had come in from residents who use the “treacherous” crosswalks.

“We’ve had some pretty close misses” at a couple of the locations being proposed for safety upgrades, Mayor Gaetz noted during the discussion.

“Parents have been asking for something to offset the danger,” Gaetz added, speaking about the dangers posed by the crosswalk in front of the old Foresters’ Hall, particularly at night.

A consultant’s report informed council that full-stop signals were not technically warranted since the current level of control was considered sufficient.

The budget for a full-stop pedestrian signal, which is funded by DCCs, would be in the range of $65,000 to $85,000 each, up to more than $125,000 at the top end, estimated Rod Sanderson, manager of transportation and drainage for the City of Chilliwack, at the Tuesday meeting.

One of the options discussed, the ‘rapid rectangular flashing beacon,’ is not actually approved for use in Canada, said Sanderson, and is only being tested on a trial basis in some locations.

A few council members raised concerns about the impacts to through traffic if council went ahead with the full-stop pedestrian signals.

“I’m wondering if it would be prudent to look at the impact on traffic on Vedder,” said Coun. Jason Lum.

Coun. Ken Huttema said he agreed with Coun. Lum and favoured something that would not interrupt traffic flow like a full-stop light signal.

The mayor noted later that since there were enough remaining questions around the council table, it warranted a “second sober look” by staff at what could be done.

The motion defer the matter back to staff was unanimous.

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